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Food taking center stage in downtown

CINCINNATI (Rich Jaffe) -- Cincinnati has hit the big time.

While the culinary scene in the city used to be known for mostly chili, it became a whole lot more interesting in the last few years.  Every few weeks what goes on in this city makes national news in a positive way!

Cincinnati has become the center of the food universe.  Really tasty bars and restaurants run from Over-The-Rhine to the river and more open every week.  At popular restaurants like The Senate on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings patrons can easily wait two or three hours for a table.

But it's worth it.

In a city once known for pork and baseball, food had started to become king.

Ilene Ross said, "There's Korean food, there's Thai food, Indian food.  There's just a diversity of food that for a long time people didn't associate with Cincinnati."

Ilene Ross is a food writer and editor.  She writes about the local food scene on her website, 513-Eats.

"We have amazing chefs, we have a quality of life that's something that allows them the affordability to do their work, raise their families," said Ross.  "We have chefs that come from New York, Chicago."

Ross said one of the things that contributes to the quality and diversity of Cincinnati food is the availability of fresh from the farm products.  Not just in restaurants but in the markets as well.  Wendy and Kennedy Furbay frequently come to Vine Street from Pleasant Ridge just for the restaurants.

When asked to pick her favorite food Wendy said, "Bakersfield.  But we can never get in.  Tacos.  We love the scallops and what else do we get? Oh the mussels from Senate."

For daughter Kennedy, it's Taste of Belgium.  She explained, "I like the waffle with the chocolate and whipped cream."

Guy Fieri spent July 9 in downtown Cincinnati shooting his Food Network show, "Diner's Drive In's and Dives."  One of the newest success stories on the gateway strip is the Eagle, known for fried chicken and uptown, down-home cooking.

General manager Ian Day told Local 12, "Business is phenomenal, business is great.  I talk to just about every table that comes in here when I'm working and the one common theme is 4 out of 5 tables are first timers.  So word is out."

It's known that "Diners Drive Ins and Dives" shot inside The Senate, Bakersfield and Taste of Belgium July 9.  They're also shooting somewhere July 11 but they don't tell people in advance.  No word yet when any of the shows will be on TV but you can bet that will drive business up even higher.

On September 12 and 13, food fans and experts from around the country will be in Washington Park for the first ever Cincinnati Food and Wine Classic.  Tastings and competitions featuring dozens of local chefs will take center stage.

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